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Inside Story

Ray Suarez brings together newsmakers and insiders to offer perspectives on the issues of the day.

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00:31:00

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TOPIC FREQUENCY

Russia 33, Crimea 9, United States 5, U.s. 4, Vladimir Putin 3, John Kerry 3, Kiev 3, Us 3, Ukraine 2, Phil 2, Kerry 2, United 2, Victor Yanokovych 1, Netanyahu 1, Vicarra 1, United Nations 1, Imf 1, United States Of America 1, Rada 1, Osce 1,
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  Al Jazeera America    Inside Story    Ray Suarez brings together newsmakers and  
   insiders to offer perspectives on the issues of the day.  

    March 4, 2014
    11:30 - 12:01pm EST  

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be stolen by bullets or by invasions. it cannot be silenced by thugs from roof tops, it's universal and unmistakable. it's called freedom. so today in another part of this country, we're in a new phase of the struggle for freedom, and the united states reaffirms our commitment to ukraines sovereignty and territorial integrity. we condemn the russian confederations act of aggression, and we have throughout this moment, and evidence of a great transformation taking place, and in that transformation, we will standing with the people of ukraine. today ukrainians are demanding a government with the consent of the people, and i have to say
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that we all greatly admire the restraint of that the transitional government has shown as it makes this transition. they have shown restraint despite an invasion of ukrainian homeland, and the russian government that has chosen aggression and intimidation as a first resort. the contrast really could not be clearer, determined ukrainians demonstrating strength through unity and the russian government out of excuses, hiding its hand behind falsehoods, intimidation, and provocations. in the hearts of ukrainians in the eyes of the world, there is nothing strong about what russia is doing.
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that both sides can accept. the prime minister spoke yesterday and with president obama, they addressed the press before they went behind closed doors for basically a three-hour meeting, quite a long amount of time for these two leaders to spend face to face. prime minister netanyahu said ignoring that it was yanokovych, who, when his country was in need, when the city was in place, where the action was, when the leaders of the nation were gathered in order to decide the future, he broke his obligation to sign that agreement, and he ned into the night with his possessions, destroying papers behind him. he abandoned his people, and eventually his country. the russian government would have you believe that the ukraine government somehow is ill legitimate or led by
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extremists, that the representatives of the ukraine, the elected representatives of the people of ukraine, they overwhelmingly approve the new government, even with members of yanokovych's party deserting him and voting overwhelmingly for this new party. it was his own party that the future of ukraine changed. and today, the rada is the most represented institution of ukraine. the russian government would also have you believe that the calm and friendly streets, one of which i walked down, but many which i drove through, that somehow the streets of kiev are actually dangerous. ignoring the reality that there has been no surge in crime, no surge in looting, no political
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retribution in kiev. the russian government would have you believe, against all the evidence that there have been mass defections of ukrainians to russia, and that hasn't happened. they would have you believe that ethnic russians and russian bases are threatened. they would have you believe that kiev is trying to destabilize crimea because crimean leaders invited intervention, and as everybody knows, the soldiers in crimea, at the instruction of their government, have stood their ground but never fired a shot, never issued one provocation, been surrounded by an invading group of troops, and
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have seen an individual who got 3% of the vote installed as the so-called leader by the russians. they would have you believe that kiev is trying to destabilize crimea, or that somehow russian leaders invited intervention. not a single piece of credible evidence supports any one of these claims. none. and the larger point is really this. it is diplomacy and respect for sovereignty, not unilateral force, that can pass off disputes like this in the 21st century. president obama and i want to make it clear to russia and everybody in the world that we are not seeking confrontation.
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there's a better way for russia to pursue it's legitimate interests in ukraine. if you are legitimately worried about some of your citizens, then go and talk to them about it. go to the u.s., raise the issues at the security council. go to the osce. raise it at one of the human rights organizations. there are countless outlets in an organized, structured, decent world has struggled to put together to resolve these differences so we don't see a nation unilaterally invade another nation. there's a better way for russia to pursue it's legitimate interests in ukraine. russia can choose to comply with international law and honor its commitments under the helsinki act under the united nations charter. if it wants to help protect
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ethnic russians as it purports to, and if they were threatened, we would support efforts to protect them, as would, i'm told, the government of ukraine. but if they want to do that, russia could work with the legitimate government of ukraine, which it has pledged to do. it can not only permit, but must encourage international monitors to deploy throughout ukraine. these are the people who could actually identify legitimate threats. and we're asking, together with the government of ukraine, together with european community, for large numbers of observers to be able to come in here and monitor the situation, and be the arbitrators of truth versus fiction. russia could return its troops
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to the barracks, live by the 1997 agreement and deescalate rather than expand their invasion. we would prefer that. i come here today at the instruction of president obama to make it absolutely clear that the united states of america would prefer to see this deescalated. we would prefer to see this managed through the structures of legal institutions, international institutions that we worked many years in order to be able to deal with this kind of crisis. but if russia does not choose to deescalate, if it is not willing to work directly with the government of ukraine, as we hope they will be, then our partners will have absolutely no choice but to join us to continue to expand upon the steps we have taken in repeat days in order to isolate russia
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politically, diplomatically and economically. i would emphasize to the leaders of russia, this is not something that we're seeking to do. this is something that russia's choices may force us to do. so far, we have suspended participation in preparations for the sochi g-8 summit. we have suspended military time, and we have suspended bilateral economic dialogue. we are prepared to take further steps if russia does not return its forces to the barracks and engage in the legitimate policy of deasclation. at the same time, the united states and it's partners, our partners, will support ukraine. we will support it as it takes difficult steps to deal with its economy, and i appreciate the meeting that i just had with the acting president and prime minister.
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and other leaders as we discuss how to move rapidly towards a free, fair, open elections that can take place very shortly. we work closely and will continue to work closely with the imf team in order to develop an assistance package to help ukraine develop financial stability in the short run and be able to grow its economy in the long run. i'm pleased to say this includes an immediate $1 billion to help ukraine's recovery, and we're currently working with the treasury department of the united states and others to lay out a broader and more comprehensive plan. we will provide the best expertise available to help ukraine's economy and financial institutions repair themselves
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and to work towards these free, fairfax county, fast, inclusive elections. we're also working with the interim government to help combat corruption and to recover stolen assets. and we're helping ukraine to cope with russia's politically motivated trade practices, whether it's manipulating the energy supply or banning the -- in ukraine. the fact is this is the 21st century, and we should not see nations step backwards to behave in 19th or 20th century fashion. there are ways to resolve these distances. great nations choose to do that appropriately. the fact is that we believe that there are a set of options available to russia and to all
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of us that could move us down a road for appropriate diplomacy and appropriate diplomatic engagement. and we invite russia to come to that table and particularly, we invite russia directly with the government of ukraine to work through these issues in a thoughtful way. i'm very proud to be here in ukraine. like so many americans and other people around the world, we have watched with extraordinary awe the power of individuals, unarmed, except with ideas, principles and values, who have reached for freedom, for equality, for opportunity. there's nothing more important in this world. that is what drives change in so many parts of the world today. it's really partly why the world is in such a state of transformation in so many
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different places at the same time. we're all connected. we all understand what other people are doing, the choices they have, and the lives they get to lead. and all over the world, young people are saying, we don't want to be deprived of those opportunities. that is what this is about. and it is about all of those who value democracy and support the opportunity for this country to join the legions of others who want to practice it. the united states will stand by the ukrainian people as they build a strong, sovereign and democratic country that they so deserve. and the men and women who extraordinarily gave their lives in order to ensure for the future. we must all step up and answer their call. i could take some questions. >> reporter: thank you very
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much, mr. secretary, are you saying that vladimir putin will be isolated by his actions, but today he seemed defiant, speaking for hours, and taking questions, and saying among other things that russia reserves the right to take any actions, and he described events here as an unconstitutional coup. he denied that there were any russian troops in crimea, and he blaze the crisis on the u.s. >> he really denied that there were troops in crimea? >> reporter: yes, he did. he said that the united states was acting as though it was conducting an experiment across the ocean on lab rats here. he showed no signs of being willing to step down, except to
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desolate the military presence in crimea. there have been shots fired today, russian ships along the isthmus between ukraine and crimea. so with all of that. what is the reaction? and also. >> not at all. i thought i might bump into her, but i didn't. i had meetings with the current group that represents the parties that have come together. and most likely -- who i've been
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in touch and working with, that with in munich previously, so we continue that conversation. but with respect to president putin's comments, you know, i've spoken this directly to president putin today, as i can, to invite him to engage in a legitimate and appropriate dialogue, particularly with the current government in ukraine. knowing that there's election in 90 days, and the people of ukraine will have the opportunity to ratify their future leadership. fact is that in the eastern part of the country, russia recently tried to get a couple of city councils to actually pass
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something asking the russians to come in, and lo and behold, those councils did the opposite. they said we don't want russia to come in. we want our independence, and i think its clear that russia has been working hard to create a pretense forking able to invade further. russia has talked about russians seeking minority citizens who are under siege, and they're not. and in fact, this government has acted remarkably responsibly by urging total calm, by not wanting to have any provocations, by avoiding even their troops, who have the legal right to resist invasion of others, but ordered them to not engage in danger. here in the streets today, i didn't see anybody who feels threatened, except for the potential of an invasion by
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russia. so i would hope that president putin, who -- who is insisting against all evidence everywhere in the world, about trooping in crimea, that they're not there, that he will step back and listen carefully, that we would like to see this deescalated. we're not looking for some major confrontation. and i do not believe that his interests, which, if we understand, are based, strong ties, everybody knows that khrushchev gave the crimea to the ukraine back in 1954, 1956, we know these things. >> and we're going to take a short breakaway from secretary of state, john kerry, to bring
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you president obama also addressing the crisis in ukraine. here is the president of the united states. >> reduction speakers inside of the ukraine, but based on russia seeking through force, influence on a neighboring country. that is not how international law is supposed to operate. i would also note just the way that some of this has been reported, that suggestions somehow that the russian actions have been clever strategically. i actually think that this has not been a sign of strength, but rather is a reflection that countries near russia have deep concerns and suspicions about this kind of meddling, and if anything, it will push many countries further away from russia. there is the ability for ukraine to be a friend of the west's,
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and a friend of russia, as long as none of us are inside of ukraine trying to meddle and intervene, certainly not militarily with decisions that properly belong to the ukrainian people. and that is the principle that john kerry is going to be speaking to during his visit. i'll be making additional calls today to some of our key foreign partners, and i suspect i'll be doing that all week and through the weekend. but as i indicated yesterday, the course of history is for people to want to be free to make their own decisions about their futures, and the international community, i think, is unified in believing that it is not the role of an outside force, where there has been no evidence of serious violence, where there has been
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no rationale under international law to intervene in people trying to determine their own destiny. is we stand on the side of history that i think more and more people around the world deeply believe in. the principle that a sovereign people and independent people are able to make the decisions about their own lives. mr. putin can throw a lot of words out this, but the facts on the ground indicate that right now, he's not abiding by that principle. there's still the opportunity for russia to do so, working with the international community to help stabilize the situation. and we have sent a clear message that we are prepared to work with anybody if their genuine interest is making sure that ukraine is able to govern itself. and as i indicated before, something that i think has not been emphasissed enough, they are currently scheduled to have elections in may.
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and everybody in the international community should be invested in making sure that the economic deterioration inside of the ukraine stops, but also that these elections proceed in a fair and freeway in which all ukrainians, including russian speakers inside of ukraine, are able to express their choice of who should lead them, and if we have a strong robust election, there should be no question as to whether the ukrainian people are governing themselves without the kinds of outside interference that we see russia observe. thank you very much. >> you've been listening to president obama addressing the crisis in ukraine. before he spoke, you heard from secretary of state john kerry, who is still speaking, i believe
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to reporters in on kiev at this hour. he said what he saw is what the united states refers to as freedom saying, and the president echoing the comments, we will stand with the people of ukraine, the president using forceful language, as did the secretary of state, accusing russia of meddling and intervening in the affairs of ukraine. we have phil in kiev, and how did this play in kiev? right now, it is close to 7:00 in the evening there. >> to get out into kiev, and certainly onto the streets of independence square here, i have to say -- i cannot think of a moment in time where a flashpoint situation has called upon the heads of state of two nations, and also their chief
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diplomat, all speaking about the same issue on the same day. we have seen the president of the united states, the president of russia, the secretary of state, and the russian foreign minister speaking all on one day, all talking about one issue, and i think it's important to make note of that. because it clearly shows how very important these two nations anhere in ukraine, with these vy important and very powerful nations all talking about the same thing. i find it absolutely extraordinary. >> phil in kiev, and these are the images, by the way, of russian troops that vladimir putin said earlier today said did not exist in ukraine. i want to play what he reported earlier this morning, said that the white house, what the u.s. is calling freedom on the
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streets of ukraine, he called an unconstitutional coup. and victor yanokovych saying that what happened was not exactly as the u.s. said happened. take a listen. >> interpreter: the definition of what has happened in kiev and the ukraine as a whole, it is an unconstitutional coup and a military seizure of power. nobody is arguing with that. who is arguing with that? >> mike vicarra at the white house, this boys down to what your definition of a coup is. >> president obama and secretary of state kerry, though they're thousands of miles apart, they have the same goal in mind. and secretary kerry, in kiev, and he comes with a $1 billion aid package, and president obama asking the congress to take that up immediately. but he's also figuratively
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planting the flag in kiev, solidarity with the government of kiev, and to deescalate the crisis, you heard secretary kerry, and president obama as well, to contain vladimir putin's ambitions right now and turn them back, but at this point to lower the temperature here and make sure that vladimir putin does not have designs on the other portions of ukraine and the southern and eastern portions with a heavy concentration of russian speakers and ethnic russians as well. so president obama there to talk about the budget in an elementary school in washington, an unlikely setting, turning his attention to ukraine, and this has consumed the white house now, president obama meeting where two hours with the national security council, trying to come up with a solution. we have heard the interim steps suspended prepser in the g-8,
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and military contacts, and suspending trade and things that russia has shown interest in the last year or so. but all of this is soft power and marginal and all of this designed to tarnish the reputation of vladimir putin, as well as to harm in the sort short-term, the russian economy. we point out again and again that the stock market and the financial markets have suffered, so top officials of the united states government. >> vike vicara, before we go, we want to listen to vladimir putin. take a listen. [ speaking russian ] >> interpreter: if we make this decision, it would be solely to protect ukrainian citizens, and we will be behind those people, not in front of them, and let them try to shoot women and children. i would like to look into the eyes of those who order that in the ukraine. >> it is now just before 7 p.m.
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in kiev right now, the people there listening to the leaders of russia, and they have been listening to the leaders of the united states and secretary of state and all parties involved in the ukraine, and we continue to follow events as they unfold.
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>> welcome to aljazeera america, i'm del walters, and these are the stories we're following for you. >> translator: this was an unconstitutional coup and an armed seizure on power >> all of this on a morning when vladimir putin also spoke out. and benjamin netenyahu telling america's largest pro-israel lobby he will do what he has to do to defend israel. ♪

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